Yesterday, Miami Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano spoke to the media about the Dolphins recent roster moves. He hit on many topics during the press availability, including why the team kept Marlon Moore (the team had worked too hard to get the speed Moore, rookie Clyde Gates, and Brian Hartline bring to the team to let Moore go), Daniel Thomas' talent level (a young version of Larry Johnson), and what kind of training camp quarterback Chad Henne had (a really good training cam and expectations of a really good season).
Sparano was asked about the process of deciding the 53-man roster. He replied:
"Well, it was hard. I mean, it was a good problem because we had hard decisions to make. But it was hard. I think there was a point in there where you're in an around 45 [players] and you're kind of grinding on the last eight or nine guys, and who fits where and why, and all that good stuff. I mean, I think that the last ball game helped us a little bit, you know, to identify some of that stuff. It was really a total body of work here in training camp, and you can't excuse what went on for three, four weeks."
Sparano then continued, explaining that the release of veteran cornerback WIll Allen was based on the "total body of work" concept:
"I mean, I really, really like Will Allen, and I really had a hard time with making that decision at the end of this thing. We're deep back there right now with guys. I felt like Nolan Carroll had a tremendous training camp. I really though Benny [Sapp] did good things, you know, and that group of guys. And Jimmy [Wilson]. And, I had the least amount of work on Will right now. That's where I was, and that's what really came into play. Just a total body of work, with a lot of training camp and a total evaluation at the end."
The topic also turned to the release of fullback Lousaka Polite, who just a week ago, Sparano defended and stated was a big part of the team's plans. Sparano said:
"That was really difficult. That was a really difficult decision, and conversation to have. You know, both those guys, Lou and Will Allen, just tremendous pros. Really good pros and good people. Guys that have all the things that you really want to have on your team. It's just you have to make decisions that are hard decisions and these were hard decisions. We kind of went in a little different direction, so there's a little more flexibility right now with where we are, than maybe where were were. All that being said, those guys have done an awful lot for us and I appreciate that."
Continuing his focus on the running back position, Sparano added:
"My thoughts are, I think that we've helped ourselves a bunch here with Reggie [Bush]. I'm looking forward to getting Reggie out there, and getting him the football. Reggie is the starting running back. Daniel Thomas will be the next guy, pretty simple process. So, I only have three of them, and they're on the roster now."
Turning to Larry Johnson, who the team released, Sparano said:
"I thought Larry did a really good job. I think it just came down to numbers and comfort. You know, right now, I kid of felt like, at this particular time, I have something similar [Daniel Thomas] that's younger, and a little faster, and all those good things. But, I mean, I thought Larry did a really good job for us and it really came down to numbers at the position."
Speaking of numbers, Sparano worked his way to the new quarterback rule, removing the "emergency" quarterback, and activating an additional member of the roster for each week's game. The Dolphins, rather than keeping a third quarterback on the 53-man roster, waived rookie Pat Devlin, placing him on the practice squad, and keeping starter Chad Henne and backup Matt Moore.
"Well, I think the rules has something to do with it, and I think also the rule gives you flexibility at the game, you know, for a little different body, and I think it gives you the ability to bring in, maybe somebody else that can contribute 25, 30 plays at the game, some place. So, I mean, that helps us a little bit that way. To be honest with you, I felt best with two quarterbacks right now. And, there's a lot of teams that don't do it, but there's a lot of teams that dot it. Right now, we are one of the teams that are going to play with two quarterbacks."
Sparano also spoke about the wide receivers. The Dolphins kept six wide receivers on the 53-man roster this year
"I have six and I have six pretty good ones. So it's a deep position, and I don't want to give up speed. I worked too hard to get it on this roster to give it up." He continued, "I mean, as of the last couple of weeks it really wasn't that tough a decision [to keep Marlon Moore on the roster]."
Continuing on his thought about the team's speed;
"I think we are playing faster. I think the tempo of things has changed tremendously in our approach on both sides of the ball. I think we've always played fast on the defense, but I think offensively we've been able to play fast, and that's kind of made our defense play a little faster, if you will. That being said, and there's no substitute for having speed, I think we've created some speed on this team at a bunch of positions. The linebacker position runs better right, the line runs better, so we have different speed right now, I think, all around."
Finally, Sparano was also asked about keeping five of the six draft picks from the 2011 draft class:
"I've said all along, I thought this was a really good rookie class. That being said, they've had limited time out here to get themselves ready to go, here, and still not there yet. But, I do think that each one of these kids has shown tremendous upside, and can help this football team in a lot of ways. I see a lot of play eaters in this group, guys that will play a lot of plays one way or the other. Whether it's Jimmy Wilson on special teams, [Clyde] Gates and his contributions, or any of those guys. So, I'm just happy that our guys did a super job in the draft, and I think it showed in training camp here and when the roster shaped up."
So, what do you think about Coach Sparano's decision making process in picking the 53-man roster?